Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for Comet Madness:
The newspapers lied! Kinda!
A look at how when Halley’s Comet visited Earth in 1910 some people thought it would kill us all.
Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:
When Halley’s Comet came by, it was closer than Mars, but still fifty-four times the distance of the moon away.
Fun Fact for History Nerds:
Halley’s Comet’s tail is about 22 million kilometers long.
My Take on Comet Madness:
What’s more dangerous than a comet? Bad science and bogus journalism, apparently.
Comet Madness by Richard Goodrich centers on the 1910 Visit of Halley’s Comet. Goodrich takes a look at how the media created an absolute frenzy around…well, not much of anything but misrepresentations and crackpot theories. If you are a person who walks around these days saying, “fake news” then this book is clearly for you. Goodrich pulls no punches in blaming the media for some of the crazy, sad, and heartbreaking actions people took due to yellow journalism.
The book is mostly a chronicle of scientific theories about what Halley’s Comet would (or mostly would not) do on its visit to Earth. Goodrich clearly did a lot of research and he scoured numerous newspapers to dredge up the stories of people refusing to pay bills, praying harder than ever, or in the worst cases, harming themselves. Some parts are sad, and some parts are downright hilarious.
The wild veering between a sad story and then a witty retort to a reporter can make the book feel disjointed at times. Also, while it is not the point of the book, I would have liked a chapter solely devoted to the actual facts around the comet. These are minor nitpicks. It is still a very enjoyable read.
(This book was provided as an advance copy by Netgalley and Rowman & Littlefield.)
Since the media never creates drama nowadays come read about it in this book! Buy it here!
If You Liked This Try:
- Eric Jay Dolin, A Furious Sky
- Simon Morden, The Red Planet
- Riley Black, The Last Days of the Dinosaurs
How many miles is that? I’m American